John Fakan Obituary

Dr. John C. Fakan, a long-time resident of Vermilion, Ohio, and skipper of the U.S.S. COD Submarine Memorial in Cleveland, entered his eternal rest on Thursday, July 5 after a long and courageous battle against cancer. John was born on May 10, 1934 in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from John Marshall High School he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Ohio University (1957), a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (1966) and a PhD in Systems Engineering (1968) from Colorado State University.

Considered to be a modern-day Thomas Jefferson due to his unquenchable thirst for learning and tireless public service, "Dr. John," as he was known to his many friends, was a member and past-President of the Cleveland Philosophical Society, a trustee of the Great Lakes Historical Society, a member of the Board of Directors of the Historic Naval Ships Association, and the President of the Cleveland Coordinating Committee for COD, the group that oversees the preservation of the U.S.S. COD World War II submarine.

John was a brilliant man who spent thirteen years as an Aerospace Engineer in the Electromagnetic Propulsion Division of NASA's Lewis Research Center in Brookpark, Ohio. He helped develop and test the electronic and propulsion systems that enabled America's lunar landing and the design of quieter jet engines for commercial airliners. He received a number of patents for his work and an Apollo Achievement Award from NASA.

John left NASA to found and direct the Medical Data Systems Corporation, one of the first in the country to provide real-time, automated information systems for physicians' offices, hospitals and clinics. During the 1970s, he also served as a senior consultant for the design of the Great Lakes Very High Frequency Communications System and designed a cutting edge, automated radio-telephone system that covered the Great Lakes via fourteen unmanned computerized shore stations controlled from a central operations center. John was scheduled to test part of the system aboard the Steamship Edmund Fitzgerald in November 1975 but had to cancel at the last minute when his colleague fell ill; the ship sank on the voyage with all hands lost.

For the past twenty-five years, John directed a crew of dedicated volunteers restoring and maintaining the U.S.S. COD, a National Historic Landmark on Cleveland's North Coast Harbor. Submarine COD is a floating memorial to those who gave their lives in defense of our Nation in the 112-year history of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Force. In 2011 the Historic Naval Ships Association presented him with its highest honor-the Casper J. Knight, Jr. Award, noting that he had led the "transformation of COD into one of the finest warship restorations in the world."

Dr. John will be fondly remembered by the thousands of individuals whose lives he touched during his 78 years of life. None will miss him more than his family. John is survived by his wife of 53 years, Helene K. (Csincsak) Fakan, son Stephen G. Fakan, daughters Debra A. Shattuck and Sandra M. Fakan, grandchildren, Sarah M. Holecko, David L. Shattuck, Matthew A. Fakan, Kristen A. Haegele, and Kathryn J. Shattuck, sisters Diane Kay, Sherry Ross, Marceda Ryan, Lynn Bucaro and brother, Brian Fakan.

Fair winds and following seas, as you commence eternal patrol, John.

Last revised 26 July 2012
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